Robert Clay's Reviews > The Preacher and the Presidents: Billy Graham in the White House

The Preacher and the Presidents by Nancy Gibbs
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May 22, 09

Read in May, 2009

Well, I don't give out five stars flippantly. I debated whether this should get four or five; it's not the best book I've ever read, but I really enjoyed it. Very informative. The book moves quickly (over half a century in 350 pages), but does a good job of providing enough details to intrigue without getting bogged down in too much policy and jargon. I loved the insights into the Presidents as men with doubts and needs much like any other man, and yet also unlike anyone else; the office of President is certainly a great burden. Without further ado, I'll let a few passages speak for themselves.

"During Graham's final visit, Eisenhower asked the doctors and nurses to leave ... 'Billy,' he said 'I want you to explain once again what you did in Gettysburg, about how you can know you're going to heaven.' So Graham told him one more time, and they prayed together. 'I'm ready.' Eisenhower said."

"And now Johnson had one more favor to ask. Would Billy preach at his funeral? And make sure the message got through, because the world listens when a president dies. 'Don't use any notes,' he said, because the wind will just blow them away. And no fancy eulogizing either. 'I want you to look in those cameras and just tell 'em what Christianity is all about. Tell 'em how they can be sure they can go to heaven. I want you to preach the gospel.' And he paused. 'But somewhere in there, tell 'em a few things I did for this country.'"

"In January 1973, Johnson talked about the odds that history would remember him kindly - or at all. 'I'd have been better off looking for immortality through my wife and children and their children in turn instead of seeking all that love and affection from the American people. They're just too fickle.'"

"I did misjudge (Nixon). It was a side to him I never knew, yet I'd been with him so many times. He was just like a whole new person. I talked to Julie about that and she felt that about her own father. I almost felt as if a demon had come into the White House, and had entered his presidency, because it seemed to be sort of supernatural, I mean it was so ugly and so terrible, especially the cover-up and the language and all that. It was just something I never knew." (Graham)

"But sometimes even that (personal faith) is not enough. No matter how deep one's faith is, sometimes you need the guidance and comfort of a living, breathing human being. For me, and for so many other Oval Office occupants, that person was Billy Graham." (George H. W. Bush)

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